Sarah Calvert

"I'm coming home. My baby wrote me a [grammatically correct] letter." The Box Tops

Mum back in the day: a true lover of the written word. 

A woman. Without her; man is nothing. A woman without her man, is nothing. 

Mum wrote this on a piece of paper for me when I was in high school writing an English paper that she was proof reading. I got it. I think I should start writing that on the board at the beginning of every English class I substitute teach. “See the difference kids?” I’d shout, pacing around the room, perhaps standing up on a desk (à la Robin Williams). “Now do you understand why it’s so important to use proper punctuation?!" Please note I used quotation marks in the sentence above because I actually said something. I constantly see quotation marks being used incorrectly. Last week I saw an ad at a local pizza joint promoting their “Vegetarian” pizza. Does that mean that it’s supposedly vegetarian, but not really? Are the owners being ironic? Is the pizza really laden with chorizo and pepperoni? Also, note that I believe that my aforementioned quote I plan to use while teaching actually warranted the use of an exclamation mark. After all, I’d be standing on a chair yelling, or exclaiming. That’s the point. Unlike so many any phrases, thoughts and sentences (if you can call them that) I have been reading lately in my conversations online and in text messages. 

It seems as if everyone these days, within any for of communication, the ubiquitous exclamation mark has lost its punch, and in my estimation, lost its meaning. please note “its” meaning, as opposed to “it’s” meaning, which I may get to later, if I haven’t tuckered myself out venting about other grammatical gripes and grievances I have. I might even get to the misuse of the apostrophe; I’ve taken photos all over the world of signs that exemplify this. 

Daily, I reluctantly look at my phone to read text messages which often have messages such as, “On my way! 10 mins late!” and the like. In my mind, I can hear my friend’s voice shouting at me and wonder if perhaps, due to her excitement (as implied with her use of exclamation marks) if she has encountered some sort of catastrophe that would result in her being ten minutes late. 

Don’t get me started on the actual vernacular of the text message; that’s another bitching blog unto itself. I mean, how lazy have we become that we can’t actually take another 4.6 seconds (I’ve timed it) to type a few extra letters to make a message be legible? B there as opposed to be there? Before takes so much more time than b4? Okay, so apparently I got started on that issue, but I’ll leave it there. U no what I mean (I saved almost a second with that one!). 

I know, rules, rules, rules. Boring. On the one hand, I admit to being a bit of a stickler for grammar, and have turned down love based on the incorrect use of their/there which may have been a bit harsh and foolish. I also steered clear of a potential romance due to the fact that he sent  numerous text messages comprised mainly of emojis and very little text at all. (Note: I am still single.)  However,  there are several things that I find sacred. One being a cup of Earl Gray tea on a Sunday morning in bed, and another being the written word. If I wish to convey my thoughts and feelings in a truly authentic way, I’m be careful with my exclamation marks; I hoard them and use them sparingly only when I deem it absolutely necessary. I want my reader to be able to read my emotional state simply by noticing the words I use and the punctuation that adorns them. Ugh. I’m too tired to get into the apostrophe issue and the whole its/it’s…perhaps next blog. It’s simply too much to get into right now. Its meaning might get lost because I’m so weary. It’s become too much to take on in this blog.  And so, I’ll sign off and hope that I don’t sound like a complete literary prude, when in reality, I totally am. I also wonder if I’ll get any more texts or emails from my dear friends who abbreviate and love the exclamation marks. I may have come across rigid and have ostracized myself a bit but what can I say? Rather, what can I exclaim? I have to speak my truth!!!

Question for You: Do you have anything that irks you in the English language? What bugs you? (If it’s blogs that complain about grammar, don’t worry, I won’t be offended.)

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